• To Build, Or Spend, That Is The Question

    Posted by on September 25th, 2008 · Comments (16)

    During lunch yesterday, watching YES, I saw Mike Francesa take a call on WFAN where the person calling wanted to discredit Mets G.M. Omar Minaya. The caller’s point was that Minaya’s only skill was spending money – and lots of it – on guys like Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Billy Wagner, Johan Santana, etc. Further, the caller said that anyone could target the best Free Agents on the market and just throw tons of bucks at them.

    Francesa’s answer on this was interesting. He said that the Mets had been burned in the past playing the spending game. (Here, I assume he meant during the days of Bobby Bonilla, Eddie Murray, Vince Coleman, Bret Saberhagen, etc.) And, Francesa said that the Mets Fred and Jeff Wilpon had decided that it was better to built from within than to play that game again. However, as Francesa continued, Omar Minaya came along and convinced the Mets that you cannot take the time and lumps associated with building from within when you’re in New York – and that spending was the thing to do….and, once the Wilpons agreed, Omar was just doing what’s needed to do in order to win in this town.

    The more I thought about this, I began to think back to the Yankees from 1989 through 1992. Talk about taking lumps! Those Yankees teams stunk. But, while that was happening, the core of Jeter, Pettitte, Rivera and Posada were getting their work in down in the minors. And, by 1996, the Yankees were rolling again.

    But, the question still remains for me: Is it worth it, to have a team that does not excel for…say…three or four years, in order to have one down the line that does and which was built from within? Or, in New York, does it make more sense to “play for today” and spend, spend, spend, your way to the top?

    Of course, part of the problem with the latter approach is that you can’t just spend for the sake of spending – and you need to spend wisely. If you go out and spend $86 million on Carl Pavano and Kei Igawa, is that really helping your team?

    But, I’m not sure that having your team finish in third place – like the Yankees will this year – or worse, for three or four years in a row (and not making the post-season) is going to help a G.M. keep his job in New York either.

    What do you think about all this? Are you O.K. with the Yankees doing what it takes to stick to the plan of building from within – even if it means missing the post-season for the next few years? Or, do you want them to spend money this off-season to try and win now?

    Comments on To Build, Or Spend, That Is The Question

    1. williamnyy
      September 25th, 2008 | 10:14 am

      I don’t understand why you have to build from within OR spend on big free agents. The Yankees are in a position where they can and should do both. If the Yankees take the field next year with Wang, Joba and Hughes in the rotation, isn’t that building from within? Then, if you add Sabathia by spending money, isn’t the end product better than simply doing one or the other?

      Over the past few years, the Yankees have drafted better and invested in the international signings. That doesn’t mean they should now abandon the free agent market. The key is to draft the right amateurs and sign the right free agents. If you do both right, you can have your cake and eat it too.

    2. antone
      September 25th, 2008 | 10:26 am

      I don’t see any reason why the Yankees wouldn’t try to win now like they always have the last few years while mixing in some young players.

      A lot is being made about the Yankees not having a great season but they still have a chance to win 90 games and will probably win at least 88. That’s really not that bad, considering they lost Wang for half the season and Joba didn’t pitch as many innings as they intended him too.

      Also, if you factor in that they had to play Boston, Tampa, and Toronto a combined 54 times then the win total is more impressive then what the White Sox or Twins are doing in the Central. Not to mention the Yankees got stuck with 10 games against the Angels this season too.

    3. MJ
      September 25th, 2008 | 10:52 am

      I’ve never been one to buy into the media-created bullshit that you can’t rebuild in New York. You absolutely CAN rebuild in New York (or anywhere else) as long as you have a plan, stick to it, and don’t try to spin it as something else. New York fans are depicted as impatient front-runners. What New York fans are, in fact, is too smart to be lied to.

      That’s my roundabout way of saying that the Yanks have the resources to spend AND develop at the same time (as the Red Sox do) but that if it ever came to pass that the Yanks had to make wholesale top-to-bottom organizational changes, it could be done in New York as long as the plan was executed properly and honestly. In short, the opposite of what the Knicks have done over the past eight seasons.

    4. Raf
      September 25th, 2008 | 10:56 am

      As williamnyy pointed out, the question is flawed. No reason why you can’t do both. The Mets and the Yanks have done both. During their run, the Braves did the same too.

    5. Jake1
      September 25th, 2008 | 11:31 am

      Why can’t you do both? Spend on free agents and have a fruitful farm system??

    6. Jake1
      September 25th, 2008 | 11:34 am

      This team is also going to win 90 games without their all star catcher, ace pitcher, 2 highly touted kids winning zero games, the cf being terrible, and their 4-5 hitters hitting 200 with RISP.

      this is not a rebuilding job. this is a reloading job.

      the problem is this. is cashman the man to lead the reloading?

    7. OldYanksFan
      September 25th, 2008 | 12:02 pm

      Another vote for BOTH… which ain’t that hard to do when you are the richest and most stories franchise in sports.

      There are 2 sets of numbers that need to be in play. Payroll and replacing players.

      If you get an average of 12 productive years from a players, then every team must develop 2 players a year to maintain a 25 man rooster. If team A develops 4 and team B develops none… well obviously Team A has a more cost effective team, more trade chips, and a better shot at the next young superstar. Unfortunately, from 1996 on, the Yanks have looked more like team B.

      In terms of payroll… lets say the Yanks want to maintain a payroll of $200m… or an average of $8m/player. So to pay ARod $27m, we need 2+ cost controlled kids to pay for ARod. Jeter at $20m, 1.5 kids. Posada at $13m, another kid. Mo… another kid. If we don’t have cheap, quality youth on the team, somewhere, we will have holes. Even at $250m, the same logic applies. If you don’t have cheap quality kids, then you have cheap crappy players on the bench, in the BP and at the end of the rotation.

      For every 2 kids the Yankees develop, they get get one stud, $24m FA. Obviously the kids we keep start getting more expensive, but you get the idea.

      Like the Yanks of the past, and as Detroit and the Mets are trying to do, you may be able to simply buy a few years of success. But it can’t be maintained without kids.

      The Sox however, are truly dangerous. They have bought talent, but also have Youk, Pedroia, Papelbom, Lowrie, Masterson, Ellsbury and Buchholz… and more coming. Whether the kids are studs or just averagish, the still have great value in filling holes, providing trade chips and maintaining payroll frexibility.

      I hate that the Sox got there before we did, but we are on the way. And I believe Cashman feels this way too.

      And how many PSs and WSs have the Mets had in the last 30 years? They still play baseball in NY, right?

    8. Raf
      September 25th, 2008 | 12:11 pm

      I hate that the Sox got there before we did
      How so? Jeter, Rivera & Posada are still there. If you want to ignore his 3 year sabbatical with the ‘Stros, Pettitte is there too.

    9. OldYanksFan
      September 25th, 2008 | 1:52 pm

      Yes Raf, but those kids came up more then a decade ago. They are now longer kids or cheap. In the last 2-3 years we have done well, but we are still behind a bit.

    10. OnceIWasAYankeeFan
      September 25th, 2008 | 2:40 pm

      OldYanksFan makes a very good point. Or as Hardball Times put it this past Sunday,

      “What’s scary is how much salary room the Red Sox have to spend this winter with very few holes to address. It’s hard to see them faltering from the top five for some time to come.”

      And the list of young developed talent missed Lester, who looks more and more like a young Andy Pettitte except that he won’t be called upon to pitch and win a Game 2, he’ll be pitching Games 1, 4 and 7 in the future.

      Unquestionably a team like the Yankees should develop from within while spending money on the right free agents. But there’s another management decision that is equally important and that, IMHO, the team has not handled correctly:

      What to do with aging stars.

      The Yanks are in to Posada and Mo and A-Rod for too many years (OK, there’s a chance that Mo will never decline – but only a chance) and are likely to sign the Captain for too many years soon as well. We’ve already seen with Posada and Matsui and Damon how aging players can wreck a season by getting hurt or declining precipitously.

      In addition to making good draft decisions and (usually but hardly always) good free agent decisions, Theo has been smart about dealing with aging stars. And that is likely to continue after this season, as he is more likely to use his bargaining chits to get a replacement for Tek than to overpay, in dollars or years, for our Captain.

    11. Joel
      September 25th, 2008 | 4:03 pm

      This “behind the Red Sox” or “behind the Rays” stuff is a joke. The Yanks are on their way to 90 wins and the 4th best record in the AL with a team that severely underachieved offensively and was absolutely decimated by injuries.

      These are the friggin’ New York Yankees! $250 million or bust. They can well afford it. Sabathia and Sheets or Burnett. Add those two to Wang, Joba, and Pettitte (I think Moose will retire).

      Transition? Rebuild? Bullshit.

      See you next October.

    12. butchie22
      September 25th, 2008 | 5:45 pm

      Once I was, I mentioned this before about Boston, that they have tons of money coming off BUT they should use that money to sign Beckett longterm and for any emeregency salary dumps. Theo has made his share of mistakes BUT the good have outweighed the bad because of the success of the last few years.

      To Joel and the Dummkopfs that think that this game of the 218 mill payroll works…Sod Off Mates! Tampa will be and is a force in the division. Andrew Friedman with a confluence of trades, free agent signings and 3 first rounders has (right now) a better team than Boston (but not the Angels). The Yankee business model compared to the Rays is laughable at best. Can you imagine shitty little Tampa going all the way to the Big Game against the Cubbies? And in the process breaking those despicable Cubbies fans hearts? I would love that to death, as much as I love Sweet Lou.

    13. Raf
      September 25th, 2008 | 5:54 pm

      Tampa will be and is a force in the division.
      They said that about the Mets in 86…

    14. Joel
      September 25th, 2008 | 9:57 pm

      The Yankee business model compared to the Rays is laughable at best.


      Yeah, as the Yanks sell out a brand new $1.5 billion stadium with the nation’s #1 RSN and the Rays struggle to draw 20,000 in a piece of shit facility 10 miles from nowhere, I’ll gladly bet on the Rays “business model” in the long term!

      Who’s the Dummkopf?

      You spend money to win, build the brand, and make more money.

    15. butchie22
      September 26th, 2008 | 11:58 am

      The mission statement of the Yankees is to win the World Series every year. Not only do they outspend the next highest team (the Tigers) by 80 mill ,but they have spent a bit over a 1.3 billion to do so. When was the last time that they won it all? 8 years ago and spend a gazilion dollars.BTW, Joel you like Yes right? Watch the highlights from the 80s and see how many Yankee faithful were attendance when Mattingly was around. They were drawing more flies to the Stadium than people. My point? If the team sucks, then you will see all the frontrunners out and YES ratings decline etc so on. Mate, the Dummkopfen are the people who actually think that this town can’t become a Mets town again BECAUSE if they start making the playoffs every year and the Yanks flop then SNY and New Shea (Shitti Field) will eclipse the Yanks in success.

      As for Tampa? Sternberg is a former Wall Street guy who know the value of money. He is spending whatever he can to make them competitive under ecomonic constraints. Raf, Tampa has a gaggle of good young players in their system and Price will be pitching next year. With the core they have they will be competitive.

    16. Raf
      September 26th, 2008 | 6:17 pm

      Raf, Tampa has a gaggle of good young players in their system and Price will be pitching next year. With the core they have they will be competitive.
      They said the same thing about the Indians too…

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